San Diego Health Officials Launch Ad Campaign To Stem Rise in Syphilis, Other STIs
San Diego County health officials on Thursday launched a radio and television ad campaign that aims to stem the rise of syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. According to CDC, the number of new syphilis cases recorded in the county increased 800% from 2001 to 2006, compared with the national increase of just 60% during the same time.
The county's annual number of new syphilis cases increased from 23 in 1997 to 312 in 2007. According to county health officials, the annual number of chlamydia cases also increased from 10,249 in 2003 to 12,796 in 2007. The number of annual gonorrhea cases increased from 1,972 to 2,403 during the same time frame. According to the Union-Tribune, it is unclear what caused the increases. County and federal health officials in November 2005 discussed the possibility that the increase in STIs might be caused by a practice called "serosorting," in which HIV-positive men have unprotected sex with other HIV-positive men.
Health officials also said that complacency might be a variable among men who have sex with men who have unprotected sex. "A possible explanation for the increase ... could be that patients are not forthcoming about their sexual practices, making it difficult for their health providers to order appropriate tests," county health officials said in a statement released Wednesday. According to 2005 statistics, about eight in 10 syphilis cases in San Diego County were among MSM, compared to about six in 10 nationally (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/14).